If you’re looking for the right church home, __________ is the place for you. You’ll love the friendly people, the family atmosphere, and practical preaching. An exciting kids and teen program every Sunday morning. Come home this Sunday to ___________. We hope to see you soon!
Any guesses on what denomination this might have come from?
No, not WELS.
This door hanger happens to come from a Baptist church. Notice the marketing techniques and the selling points: home, you’ll love, friendly, family, practical, exciting. There is no honesty here about a person’s desperate need caused by sin, no mention of Christ or the cross or of the urgency of hearing and believing the Gospel.
Marketing appeals like this that put a purely superficial, positive, Word-less spin on a church are common. Churches from many denominations attempt to “sell” their church as a product to the community. Perhaps one wouldn’t even expect a basic Law/Gospel message on a Baptist flyer inviting people to their church, since Baptist theology ascribes to man’s reason and will the ultimate power to choose salvation.
But one would expect to find a simple Christ-centered, Law/Gospel message inviting people to a confessional Lutheran church, because we’re not trying to market a product to the community. Our churches do not exist to provide “you” with what “you’ll love,” but instead, with the Word of God that will kill you in order to raise you back to life. Our churches should not be characterized primarily by friendliness, practicality or level of excitement. Instead, they should be known as places where the Bride of Christ gathers around Word and Table so that Christ – crucified, risen, and present – may be proclaimed.
Our message to the community is not, “Come and see how friendly we are!” or “Our church is a place where people who hate Jesus will feel right at home!” Instead, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Now, a challenge for the reader – pastor and layman alike. Take a look at your church’s evangelism materials, signage, service folders and website. How much is marketing? How much is proclamation of Christ? Is your church portraying itself honestly, or is it trying to "sell itself"? How does your church complete the sentence, "Come to our church, where..."?
We will make an exception in this post to our normal rule of “no anonymous comments.” If you’d like to quote some material (either good or bad) from your church or from another church, then please do so anonymously, and do not include the name or location of the church. Any other comments should include your first and last name, as usual, including suggestions you may have for the wording of a flyer, service folder or website.